It’s finally happened and it took far too long, but a football club is ready to be accountable for the actions of its own players and, unsurprisingly, it’s not a Premiership side.
League Two Torquay United are set to introduce disciplinary rules for its own players regarding diving, cheating and the stuff that many supporters are beginning to accept as part of the game.
Under Torquay’s new rules, any player found guilty of attempting to gain advantage by foul means will get a disciplinary letter and caution.
A second offence will result in a player receiving a final warning and the maximum fine stipulated by the FA.
Anyone found guilty of crossing the line a third time will be placed on the transfer list or sacked for gross breach of conduct.
The club will look at any video evidence received up to five days after the alleged incident.
A statement reads: ‘No longer will a Torquay United Player be told “You should have gone down”.
‘It is the responsibility of our Players to stay on their feet and try to score goals. Indeed we believe that this will take the pressure off the Players who very often find themselves unsure whether to try and score, or ‘go to ground’, when challenged.’
Bravo! To hammer the point home club chairman Chris Roberts said of the ‘The Torquay Initiative’,
‘If Torquay United can afford to take this stance, then any club, Amateur or Professional can follow our lead.
‘Two wrongs do not make a right. Clubs should not use the excuse that they are waiting for other Clubs to follow suit. It is the responsibility of each Professional Football Club to clean up its own house and take full responsibility for the conduct of its Players on the pitch.
‘British Football has the opportunity to take a lead in resolving this major issue which is tarnishing our Sport and marred the World Cup Finals in Germany 2006.’
Great news and a real sucker punch to all those clubs who bang on about how the high stakes of Premiership matches means that clubs can not afford to punish key players for earning them an advantage. Of course, it’ll be interesting to see what the actual impact ends up being. “Diving” can be very subjective, some deem that contact has to be made for something to be a foul – but if someone tries to take your head off and you duck, how can that not be? Certainly even with video review no case is going to be black and white.
Torquay is a baby step, but the Premiership may need Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, or Chelsea to introduce such measures before they become commonplace. British leagues tend to be the least accepting of playacting as a form of football tactics, so it’s hard to imagine than any supporter would be against such a revolution.
Should it happen, anyone want to take a guess as to which clubs may find themselves slipping down the table?